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Purpose of the WCFTR

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Madison, WI is the home of one of the largest and most significant collections of media history in the world

We believe that one of the most important gateways into understanding American culture is the original records of its creators, particularly in the field of drama and audio-visual media.  Each year, hundreds of scholars from around the world, as well as creative artists and the interested public, consult our archives and produce important works that draw on the information and visual materials contained in our collections. Our staff of archivists and researchers can provide research help for those looking for materials. 

The WCFTR's acquisition goals extend primarily to those collections that contain extensive supporting documentation, in the form of print and related material, of the creative works of their producers.  Our emphasis is placed on the coherence of the collection and its research value.  Though this might include films and video materials themselves, production documentation beyond films and scripts alone is essential to understanding the context within which US media are produced. 

We continue to be particularly interested in the papers and audio/visual materials of individual producers, directors, writers, actors, and other key personnel in the production of US audio/visual/stage culture, particularly those who have played an innovative or particularly significant role in its development.

Collection areas we are most interested in developing:

  • independent film and television production
  • film and television industry records from the 70s to the present
  • female producers, directors, and writers
  • collections with a social action significance
  • innovators in the media field

The WCFTR is a participating member of FIAF, the International Federation of Film Archives, enabling us to borrow filmed material from archives all over the world for Cinemateque screenings. The WCFTR, in turn, loans its prints for screenings at events organized or sponsored by other FIAF member archives. Both the UW Cinematheque, co-sponsored by the Communication Arts Department, and the Classic Book and Movie Club, co-sponsored with the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Capital Times newspaper, are important outreach activities that draw on Center collections and programming expertise.  WCFTR also supports the Wisconsin Film Festival, the Wisconsin Book Festival, the Dane County Cultural Affairs Board, the Airport Commission, and many local initiatives through involvement with both the Communication Arts Department and the Wisconsin Historical Society.

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